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March 17, 2001 - March 17, 2001

Anjar leads in relocation issue over Bhuj, Bhachau Saturday, March 17, 2001

AHMEDABAD: While politics and vested interests come to the forefront on the issue of relocating Bhuj, Bhachau and other towns destroyed by the earthquake, Anjar has decided to go by the geologist's word and relocate where they can rebuild a new town far more economically and with a greater degree of safety.

This is after geologists from the Gujarat State Power Corporation and the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, for the first time, carried out geological survey and mapped all the areas in and around Anjar and detected big medium and hair-line faults.

These fault lines, says P N Roy Chaudhary, in-charge of rescue and rehabilitation in the Anjar area, give us a fair enough idea as to which are the vulnerable areas, where are the fault lines and where the soft (soil) spots are.

The Bhukamp Rahat Samiti, formed by local leaders of Anjar cutting across political and communal lines, has written to Roy Chaudhary seeking the government's guidance for relocation and their willingness to build a new town to replace the old clustered and now destroyed Anjar.

Roy Chaudhary alongwith managing director of GSPC Sanjay Gupta, who was also in-charge of rehabilitation of Anjar, decided to go ahead with a full scale geological survey of Anjar and its nearby areas after the samiti's green signal.

When asked what effect this survey could have considering that massive devastation was caused as far away as Ahmedabad, Gupta said one could not have a built safeguards for a quake of 8 on Richter but moving a few kilometres away could certainly reduce the cost of building a quake-resistant house.

The state government has been informed of the move in Anjar and the unanimous support to the scientific approach to post-quake rehabilitation, Chaudhary told TOI.

However, in other towns like Bhuj which too bore the brunt of the earthquake, politics and vested interests are taking centrestage in deciding where and how to rebuild the town.

For instance on last Sunday the Shree Bhuj Punah Sthapan Samiti (Bhuj Restoration Committee) held a massive meeting at Gayatri Mandir to resolve and fight for relocation in old Bhuj.

"The kot vistar (fort area) is our soul," says president of the Kutch Chamber of Commerce and one of the main leaders of the movement Arvind Thakkar.

In fact there are two schools of thought in the state government, one led by industries minister Suresh Mehta, who is insisting on relocating the entire city, and another by MLA Mukesh Jhaveri and chairman of GMDC who believes the old city can and should be rebuilt from scratch in the same place.

Many believe the new city project is meant to fill the coffers of only a few. Land around the city would have to be used, all of which is owned, either directly or as benami property, by builders who are allegedly close to politicians.

Another rally was taken out on Thursday and the rallyists have given the government time till March 25 to clear the debris and restore the power and drainage connections so people can start rebuilding their lives.

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Panic grips among Nadiad depositors Saturday, March 17, 2001

NADIAD: Panic-struck account holders and depositors lined up before some of the nine local co-operative banks here on Wednesday and Thursday following the Madhavpura Mercantile Co-operative Bank crisis in Ahmedabad.

Approximately Rs 5 crore have been withdrawn during the last two days - Wednesday and Thursday - from the local co-operative banks, according to reports available from co-operative bank sources. However, there was no need of police protection despite rush of depositors in different co-operative banks, said Nadiad town police inspector R B Patel.

Earlier a meeting of the chairmen, managing directors and managers of nine local co-operative banks on Thursday unanimously decided not to pay the amount of premature deposits temporarily and also not to allow overdraft against the deposits, according to chairman of Natpur Co-operative Bank Kiritbhai Dalal.

When contacted by TOINS, the co-operative officer of district registrar's office here did not provide information about the amount of deposits the account holders and depositors had withdrawn from the nine local co-operative banks in the last two days due to crisis in one of the leading co-operative banks in Ahmedabad.

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Police launch probe into leaflets issue Saturday, March 17, 2001

RAJKOT: The local crime branch has launched a full-fledged investigation into the origin of leaflets containing defamatory remarks against Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel and the state BJP. The leaflets titled Ma dhartino pukar and subtitled Khissa katram were to be distributed to people on March 4.

According to reports, the leaflets were meant to be inserted into the morning dailies by boys, who were promised payment of Rs 50 per 100 leaflets distributed.

Police investigations have thrown up the names of Prithvisinh Jadeja and Chandu Rathod. The leaflets are said to have originated from somewhere near the Rashtriya Shala. Two youth staying in that area are also said to be involved. Incidentally, Rathod's brother Chinu Rathod is a BJP corporator, and police suspect that some BJP leaders could be behind the distribution of these leaflets.

Meanwhile, police registered a complaint against Prithvisinh Jadeja at the Malaviyanagar police station under Section 3 and 12 of the Press and Registration Act for his alleged role in the leaflets issue.

Police commissioner Sudhir Sinha said action would be taken against those involved under the Copyrights Act and Defamation Act.

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Rajkot Left Front workers to stage dharna against defence deal scam Saturday, March 17, 2001

RAJKOT: The Rajkot unit of Left Front has planned a dharna on Saturday against the defence deal scam that has rocked the country following the tapes released by tehelka.com.

"The LF is demanding nothing less than the resignation of the Vajpayee government as it has lost the moral right to govern," an LF leader said on Friday.

The LF leaders said the party workers would stage a dharna in front of the statue of Babasaheb Ambedkar at the Hospital Chowk. They would also protest the budget proposals which were anti- people and aimed at adversely affecting the small and medium industries.

Former MP Jayaben Shah said the image of Army had received a severe jolt as never before were army men found involved in such deals and accepting money. She demanded that action should be taken against all those named in the tapes, irrespective of their party affiliations and standing.

Meanwhile, Youth Congress workers in the city burnt an effigy of former BJP president Bangaru Laxman who had resigned following the release of tapes which showed him accepting money.

President of the city unit of the YC Jashwantsinh Bhatti said the Youth Congress would also expose all those local BJP leaders who had close links with Laxman.

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Total bandh in Bagasara over water issue Saturday, March 17, 2001

RAJKOT: Bandh calls in Saurashtra over the issue of water are now becoming common with the crisis deepening each passing day. On Friday, Bagasara observed a complete bandh, while residents of Kotda Sanghani have threatened a bandh on March 20.

Shops and commercial establishments in the main bazar, the station road, Vijay chowk and other areas did not open to protest against irregular water supply to the town.

Former nagarpalika president Meghjibhai Rangadia led the rally through the main throughfares of the city. A group of leading citizens of Bagasara town sat on dharna in front of the nagarpalika office demanding water.

Friday was Bagasara's turn to get water, but the motor used for pumping water developed a snag and water could not be distributed in time, resulting in people getting restless and shouting slogans. Police bandobast was made as tension gripped the town.

Residents of 42 villages of Kotda Sanghani taluka have also threatened to observe a bandh in protest against distribution of water from the Gondli dam to Gondal city. Leaders of various political parties like BJP, Congress and the Kisan Sangh have joined hands in opposing distribution of water from the dam to any other city or town.

In Rajkot, women from the Gayatridham area took out a morcha to the municipal commissioner's office, demanding water. The women were led by former BJP corporator Lilaba Jadeja.

Earlier, a civic team tried to demolish a water standpost but before the staff could get its act together, residents prevented them from doing so. The staff had to beat a hasty retreat sensing the mood of the people. The womenfolk then marched to the civic office demanding setting up of more standposts in the area, besides increasing the number of tanker trips to supply water.

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